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Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the speaking-sense-to-power dept.

Patents 597

Norsefire writes "Two economists at Washington University in St. Louis are claiming that copyright and patent laws are 'killing innovation' and 'hurting [the] economy.' Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine state they would like to see copyright law abolished completely as there are other protections available to the creators of 'intellectual property' (a term they describe as 'propaganda,' and of recent origin). They are calling on Congress to grant patents only where an invention has social value, where the patent would not stifle innovation, and where the absence of a patent would damage cost-effectiveness."

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597 comments

Their site/blog (5, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27142953)

www.againstmonopoly.org [againstmonopoly.org]

Down with GPL - it HURTS THE ECONOMY !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143767)

GPL hurts the economy !! It's confirmed by MIT !! Hahahaa -suck it up freetards !!

If you want it to be free, and you love it, make it PUBLIC DOMAIN !!

Absurd! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27142963)

This vile proposal threatens to sacrifice shareholder value on the altar of the progress of the useful arts! The founding fathers would never stand for it.

Wrong (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143017)

This vile proposal threatens to sacrifice shareholder value on the altar of the progress of the useful arts!

Shareholders benefit because their money isn't going into lawyers pockets, and being lost to the invisible, incalculable cost of hindered progress.

(yes I know you were being sarcastic. Sadly, that is actually the majority sentiment on this issue.)

Re:Absurd! (2, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143021)

This vile proposal threatens to sacrifice shareholder value on the altar of the progress of science and the useful arts! The founding fathers would never stand for it.

There, fixed your partial quote of the Copyright Clause.

Re:Absurd! (4, Interesting)

Binty (1411197) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143065)

While there might be a good reason to call Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution the "Copyright Clause" when talking about copyrights specifically, this clause of the constitution also authorizes patent law and perhaps other kinds of intellectual property that Congress hasn't been innovative enough to think of yet. We could call it the "Intellectual Property Clause" or the "Copyright and Patent Clause," but for my money I like "Progress Clause."

Re:Absurd! (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143105)

Meh, that's what Wikipedia calls it [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Absurd! (3, Informative)

crosbie (446285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143391)

Which it shouldn't.

The US constitution did not specify that author's should be granted a reproduction monopoly, but that their exclusive right to their writings should be secured.

See An Author's Exclusive Right [digitalproductions.co.uk] for more detail.

-1 Pedantic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143747)

Where's a good -1 Pedantic mod when you need one?

Re:Absurd! (4, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143799)

No, it says that Congress has the power to secure it, if Congress so wishes. There is no Constitutional obligation, though.

As for your essay, while I'd agree with you on some issues, and disagree with you on many others, I don't really see the point.

There are really only three options for an author who would see his works published. First, make a deal with a publisher. As there are a lot of authors (who tend to be bad at making deals) and rather fewer publishers (who tend to be quite good at making deals), the author is probably going to get a bad deal. Second, self-publish, but this is often inefficient, as authors are unlikely to get the best deals, or have working relationships with retailers, big-name reviewers, etc. The Internet is making this a little easier, but not a whole lot easier, unless your sights are set low (e.g. being the top dog of some sort of fanfic community). Third, for the law to treat authors paternalistically, not allowing them to make deals which outsiders viewed as bad (by letting the authors terminate transfers, or be unable to sell the entirety of their rights in a work). This is offensive, and it certainly isn't in keeping with the normal level of government involvement in business dealings. If the author were selling land to a developer, we'd certainly let him make a bad deal.

This is what we have under a normal copyright system, and I don't see how your somewhat Lockean approach really would help authors any.

10 Years, not Infinity+ years (4, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27142967)

Copyrights should only be a limited amount of time, not the current infinity+ that it is now.

More than the authors life is excessive.

A picture I took today shouldn't expire in 75 (if I live to 100) + 70 years, or in 2154.
If I had a son, he might not be alive at that point.

That is just way too long.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143069)

A picture I took today shouldn't expire in 75 (if I live to 100) + 70 years, or in 2154.
If I had a son, he might not be alive at that point.

What I dont get is why your son needs to be rewarded for you working in the first place.
Outside of world leaders & royalty, no other profession gets a free pass for their children.
Are the children of copyright owners incapable of working like everyone else has to?

(not directed at you but at copyright holders)

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143307)

What I dont get is why your son needs to be rewarded for you working in the first place.

Why should you indefinitely? 5 years should be enough to capitalize and come up with something new to sell.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143405)

5 years, i might also add is greater than the cut off most business ventures view as the break even point. usually a proposal needs to pay back and less than 24 months to be considered. that means 3 years of totally milking your invention, should should be plenty. it will also force companies to creat more because they can't just sit back and milk one innovation forever.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143629)

Why should you indefinitely? 5 years should be enough to capitalize and come up with something new to sell.

What if, like many creative people, you struggle in obscurity for years before gaining a reputation?

When you get your big break and your work finally has some real dollar value, should large corporates be entitled to move in and use your work for free?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143751)

Sure. Why not? Everyone will be able to use it for free so I'm not sure why your using the boogey man of large corporations. Take a band like Green Day. Would it kill them to stop receiving royalties on music they made 15 years ago? They'd still be pulling in cash on the stuff they've done recently.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143819)

My proposals are normally along the lines of 'life or 50 years, whichever's greater'.

The 50 years is so the work of a sick author like Robert Jordan still has enough value to interest publishers, or if the dude has an accident or whatever.

The life because, well, an author should be able to control his works while still living.

On the other hand, 50 years/life has the copyright expiring while there's still individuals/groups interested in preserving/distributing the work.

For example, Elvis made a bunch of movies. I saw reruns of them a lot as a kid, but as time goes on, the number of people who remember Elvis live drop. Statistically speaking, very, very few will be left by the time the copyrights on his work expire.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143659)

The main argument for the additional time is a lot of products that involve copyrights only get to market through significant investment by others. If any publisher could print a version of another authors works because that author had died, without any time period having elapsed then the business risks are significant. I agree that life + 10 years is far more reasonable than life + 70.

Different length for different product - (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143789)

Computer Software: 5 years
Books: 10 years

For the most part, computers goes "out of date" every 18 months, what insanity is it to give software indefinite length of protection? A lot of old 8 bit software we grew up with won't even run on most modern platform, but they're still "protected."

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143823)

Exactly. Just like in any other field, if they want to provide for their children save and invest what they earn from the copyright during their lifetime. If you want to put a low cap on it for fairness' sake, do so. E.g., Copyright protection for the creator's life or 5 years, whichever is longer. Anything more is crazy. (And many things less are saner!)

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143087)

More than the authors life is excessive.

Not necessarily. If an inventor is only able to get a loan on the possibility that the loan provider can get some profit from it (as is always the case), the loan provider will not be as likely to make such a loan if, should the inventor die tomorrow, their money would be lost forever.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143131)

What about "Life of author or x years, whichever is longer"?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143205)

What about just x years?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143353)

I was illustrating that a policy could be based on lifespan and still avoid conflicting with the "inventor dies next week" scenario. (Without appending a number after the death date)
I agree a set span would be a better policy.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (5, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143463)

What about "Life of author or x years, whichever is longer"?

I'd still prefer X years where X is single digit, or Very low double digit.

Just because its 'intellectual property' doesn't mean they shouldn't have to work for a living just like every one else.

If one album can only guarantee income for 5 years, then they would be encouraged to, i don't know, make another one! Or perhaps get out and find a real job. Either would be better for society as a whole.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143715)

If one album can only guarantee income for 5 years, then they would be encouraged to, i don't know, make another one! Or perhaps get out and find a real job. Either would be better for society as a whole.

As I have posted above in reply to someone else, you are assuming that work has value which is at its highest immediately upon its creation and then declines steadily from there.

But what about, say, an author. He writes a novel today which is published in limited circulation and does moderately well. In 2015 he publishes another novel, which through a combination of quality, good timing and strong support from his publisher turns into a big hit and gets rave reviews. Suddenly some of the reviewers start reading his first novel, and realise that it's actually even better than the second one.

So, on your theory, his publisher is now entitled to make millions selling physical copies of his first novel (for people will surely still buy physical books, no matter how great the Kindle or whatever becomes) while the author gets nothing for his "imaginary" property.

Oh, and yes, some works of art are sufficiently great that I have no problem whatsoever with the artist living for the rest of their lives from the proceeds. Dark Side of the Moon racked up over 1500 weeks in the Billboard charts, and as far as I am concerned Pink Floyd deserve every penny they make from it. But on your random 5 year system they would have lost 23 years worth of royalties because society somehow deserves to have their unique creative work for free. Lazy Pink Floyd, go and record another masterpiece, dammit!

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Dreadneck (982170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143813)

If an inventor is only able to get a loan on the possibility that the loan provider can get some profit from it (as is always the case), the loan provider will not be as likely to make such a loan if, should the inventor die tomorrow, their money would be lost forever.

Couldn't the loan provider take out an insurance policy to protect against such a possibility?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (4, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143091)

Indeed. The changes to copyright law have pretty obviously been made solely to benefit huge corporations. Dead authors, musicians, artists, etc don't see any benefit from it - they're dead.

The entire idea is to give people a way to protect their source of income while they labor to create more stuff. If it takes you more than 10 years (off the top of my head) to create something else that people are willing to pay for then you should find yourself a new career.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

Verity_Crux (523278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143233)

The changes to copyright law have pretty obviously been made solely to benefit huge corporations.

That's the whole problem. If we had 10 years for a sole-proprietor patent, 5 years for a corporation patent, and maybe 12 years for a copyright we'd totally shut down all this wasted litigation money from corporations. I don't think an individual should be able to get a patent; if they aren't planning to make money on it, it should be given to the public domain.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143419)

I don't think an individual should be able to get a patent; if they aren't planning to make money on it...

Patent owned by individual != Does not plan on profiting from it.
Given the current lifespan of patents, if I have a good idea that can be profitable I would be tempted to patent it now and then work towards being able to start a business 2-5 years down the road that can make money from it. Or, if I am lazy, I could license it out.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143783)

> I don't think an individual should be able to get a patent; if they aren't planning to make money on it, it should be given to the public domain.

Who is to say what Plans are in my head at any given time?

And individual should have some time to develop commercial plans even if they did not originally set out to make money from their invention. The idea that they have to have a business plan in order to get a patent is sort of silly. You can download a business plan from the net, and submit it as proof of "Planning to make money".

After some low number of years the benefit to society that is stymied by the developer's dis-interest exceeds any value that be achieved by allowing the patent to stand.

Your argument would make far more sense if you suggested additional patent life be granted if the patent were being exercised (in production and being sold).

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143645)

If it takes you more than 10 years (off the top of my head) to create something else that people are willing to pay for then you should find yourself a new career.

And that's exactly the argument that "content producers" are going to make, but in favor of extending copyright protections. As you say, those who cannot capitalize on their creations will find new careers, instead of creating more content. End result: less new content.

I'm all for reducing or eliminating copyright. But, this argument won't convince anyone.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143093)

It originally was...what? 14 years?
The copyright on Windows 95 would be expiring in a few months. Oh how on Earth would MS survive if Windows 95 was no longer protected by copyright law?~

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143283)

Double that, I think it was 14 years, + 14 years if they wanted it to be extended. Which is about right, although personally I think 15 + 10, or 15 + 10 + 5 + 3 + 1 where the proof/necessity/legitimacy of the copyright is harder to prove/costs more with each succession.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143151)

Just make copyrights non-transferable and non-inheritable, i.e. you could never sell your rights to another person or corporation, so they would automatically expire upon the original creator's death. You could still license the use of your copyright to others to earn a profit by it (i.e. lease, not sell). Yes, there are a couple problems with this: 1) It creates an incentive to kill people to get free access to their work. However, since everybody simultaneously gets free access to the work, there is very little profit to be made in doing this. 2) It obsoletes the concept of a "work for hire". The other implication is that since corporations themselves are incapable of creating anything, a corporation should never be allowed to hold the copyright on anything. Oh, and your son should go out and write his own damn book!

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

skribe (26534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143241)

More than the authors life is excessive.

I'd prefer lifetime plus some short additional period (say 10-20 years) just for safety's sake. If you make it just lifetime it wouldn't surprise me in the least if some bright, young corpling arranged for an accident or two to 'free up the rights issue we're having'. To a corp it may be considered an acceptable risk to put out a $100k contract rather than fork over a few mill for the movie rights. Just sayin'

skribe

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143385)

So how about a fixed period, maybe with an extension, and leave the authors life out of the length?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143599)

Exactly. Basing anything on the lifespan of the creator is unfair.

Why is the work of someone who dies at age 20 worth less than that of someone who lives to age 100?

Why should an 18 year old receive more protection than a 50 year old?

Why are terminal cancer sufferers less worthy of protection than those in good health?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (3, Insightful)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143833)

Absolutely not. The Statute of Anne (Britain, 1710) set the term for copyright at 14 years. Copyright is about controlling distribution so that the author would have sufficient time to reap rewards for their labors. Distribution gets easier and easier as time marches on, technology improves and the general education of the masses increases. The ease with which information can be disseminated today should, in my opinion, mean that copyright terms should be decreased, not increased. 14 years, max, and referably less than 10.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (2, Insightful)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143377)

I agree, and this also applies to patents.

Abolishing them completely is a bad idea - in fact, it would make people stop using their heads. Right now if something is patented, you need to figure out another way to do the same thing. Sometimes the new method is even better than the original. THAT IS THE [IMPLIED] GOAL. Without a patent, everyone would just use the 1st method and nobody would want to improve upon it.
But if nobody can figure out another way to do the same thing, the patent does indeed stifle innovation (since other inventions often build on top of existing ones).
Shorter timespans would still allow the original inventor the temporary monopoly (emphasis on "temporary"!), would prevent stagnation and promote innovation.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143675)

No, the implied goal is to disclose the method to the public so that you don't end up with 'trade secrets' that must be closely held to prevent theft and therefore impede efficiency, not to mention losing innovations for periods of time - see the recent revelations about the Trident missile's warhead for why this is would be a bad idea for most industries.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (5, Insightful)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143821)

Right now if something is patented, you need to figure out another way to do the same thing. Sometimes the new method is even better than the original. THAT IS THE [IMPLIED] GOAL. Without a patent, everyone would just use the 1st method and nobody would want to improve upon it.

Why don't we outlaw the wheel, then? I'm sure that will force the market to come up with all sorts of creative alternatives. We'll probably waste billions of dollars in the process, but at least we'll be promoting "innovation"! Isn't that what's important, after all?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143573)

If I had a son, he might not be alive at that point.

No discussion about a daughter - interesting. Would she not be able to hold a copyright?

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143735)

Well, since the founding fathers saw women as property, I doubt it.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143577)

I agree that copyright should be made a fixed number of years after the release. The exact number of years can be discussed. I think 10 is not too bad. But I'd say it could vary depending on the kind of work with a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 20. I don't see any reason why any copyright would need to be more than 20 years.

I also would like to see other restrictions in copyright. When releasing a work you should be forced to decide whether you want to protect it using copyright or technical means - not both. In other words, anything released under a DRM scheme is fair game for copying by anybody able to do so. That would be a much more reasonable law than the current system that allows works to be released under DRM schemes that prevents fair use (sometimes even prevents just watching a movie the way it was supposed to be watched) and even makes it illegal (in some countries) to do anything that the DRM system did not intend you to do. Why did lawmakers ever write such a blank cheque for the publishers?

Patents certainly have proven to be bad enough for some areas that they should just not be permitted. The way I'd reform the patent system would be to add more phases to the system in the following way. First you publicize the problem to be solved. Then society decides (details would have to be worked out) how much an invention to solve that problem would be worth. Then whoever first present an invention to solve the problem is granted the patent and can manufacture or sell licenses. The inventor gets pretty much free hands as today with a few exceptions. The total amount of money paid in licenses must be public, once it reaches the decided value the patent expires, and anybody who wants to can pay out the final amount to make the patent expire.

The point of that system would be to give a more fair compensation to inventors, and prevent patents on obvious ideas. I think there would need to be a designated period from publicizing the problem till decision on the value (for example six months), if the invention is presented during that period it is considered obvious and nobody is granted the patent.

Of course you could still work for several years before publicizing the problem you aim to solve, in order to get a head start, but you'd still be running two risks, maybe the invention would be valued very low by society, or maybe somebody else would come up with the solution very quickly. In both cases the time you spent would be a waste seen with the eyes of society, and the patent system should not encourage such waste.

Re:10 Years, not Infinity+ years (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143655)

What I don't get is why people keep quoting this:

More than the authors life is excessive.

and think that you advocate for lifetime copyrights. The only position stated in this post is that

More than the authors life is excessive.

There is no mention of how long you think it should be, only how long it shouldn't be.

Their book... (3, Insightful)

NeoTron (6020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27142993)

Would it be irony if their book was copyrighted? ;)

Also, I'm glad to see the description of the term "Intellectual Property" called for precisely what it is : propaganda. It's time for this term to be thrown out, and not to let so-called self-professed "intellectual property owners" inject this horrible term into the collective mind-set any further - it muddies the water of the discussion.

Re:Their book... (1)

koutbo6 (1134545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143067)

i dont think this qualifies as irony
hypocrisy ..yes

Re:Their book... (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143257)

Would it be irony if their book was copyrighted? ;)

i dont think this qualifies as irony

I have it, from a very good source, that some people constitute this as one form of irony. I'd quote my source but I'm afraid they'd sue.

Re:Their book... (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143743)

This is some motherfuckin hiphopracy goin on here!

WOO WOO!

Re:Their book... (1)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143167)

Also, I'm glad to see the description of the term "Intellectual Property" called for precisely what it is : propaganda [...] - it muddies the water of the discussion.

That is the point of the term. To eventually muddy the waters enough that the big corporations can have an item and be able to enforce their monopoly with the freedom of trademarks, the term length of copyrights and the enforcement powers of patents.

Re:Their book... (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143177)

What do you call the design of your Intel Core 2 processor before it gets fabbed into silicon and metal? Are you claiming that the RTL/schematics/"design" of that processor are worthless?

Re:Their book... (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143243)

Agreed. Somehow, not-copyrighting your inventions before they are actually manufactured (IP?) will protect against those awful corporations that can do anything with their money. Because that way, you, without any money, can eventually manufacture it and finally copyright it, while the corporation that could manufacture it in 2 months and start selling it sits idly back, scared of taking your uncopyrighted non-intellectual-property un-manufactured invention from you...

[/sarcasm, if you couldn't tell]

The situation isn't good, but goodness, if there weren't ANY copyrights on non-implemented ideas, the idea of private "inventors" would be over; corporations could be in the business of stealing (only it wouldn't be stealing) ideas. We'd end up back in the hide-your-plans-under-your-pillow-for-secrecy days I guess... whenever those days were, that is. :)

Re:Their book... (2, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143459)

What do you call the design of your Intel Core 2 processor before it gets fabbed into silicon and metal?

Probably "Trade Secret"

Re:Their book... (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143181)

Would it be irony if their book was copyrighted? ;)

You don't have a choice in the U.S. to not copyright your works. It is automatic.

Re:Their book... (1)

umeboshi (196301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143795)

You don't have a choice in the U.S. to not copyright your works. It is automatic.

This is not exactly true. While you can be granted an automatic copyright since the requirement for registering it no longer applies, you can still choose to have your works not protected by copyright and release them into the public domain.

Re:Their book... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143271)

Intellectual Property allows people to safely invest huge amounts of money into research and other areas where the return is not immediate.

Who is going to invest millions of dollars into cancer research if they knew all their work could be stolen when/if a cure came out?

Re:Their book... (1)

Inschato (1350323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143637)

Who is going to invest millions of dollars into cancer research if they knew all their work could be stolen when/if a cure came out?

Uh.. people who want to cure cancer?

Re:Their book... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143371)

A man has the right to the product of his mind, and to do with it what he sees fit. If you believe you had a right to the text of a book, to do with it as you pleased, then why didn't you write the book in the first place? A right to property is a right to action, like all other rights; it is not a right to an object, but a right to the actions, means, and results of producing an object.

Re:Their book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143737)

The term "intellectual property" is more than 100 years old - it's mentioned in the original Berne Convention of 1886. How much deeper can it get into the "collective mindset"?

Re:Their book... (0)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143803)

Also, I'm glad to see the description of the term "Intellectual Property" called for precisely what it is : propaganda. It's time for this term to be thrown out, and not to let so-called self-professed "intellectual property owners" inject this horrible term into the collective mind-set any further - it muddies the water of the discussion.

The layoffs that would occur as all developed software immediately entered the public domain because there was no legal recourse for copying binaries or code, and the resulting explosion of DRM and trusted computing initiatives would be fascinating to watch, but somehow I don't think it would help the economy very much. Perhaps it's called "Intellectual Property" because it can cost billions of dollars to develop, and wouldn't be economically feasible to develop without the protections afforded to tangible property.

GTA 4, for instance, cost about $100M to develop. Given the quality of open source games, I think it's a totally fair assessment that without being able to sell the content, quality modern games couldn't exist without unbreakable DRM and trusted computing. In the short term, this would kill the industry. In the long term, it would increase the PC software development barrier of entry to match that of console game development.

What about the entertainment industry? Let's use the Dark Knight as an example. The budget was $185M. If anyone could copy and distribute the film, would it be economically possible to profit after such an outlay (hint: it wasn't released in China for "cultural reasons")?

The fact of the matter is that getting rid of copyright would do more to harm the economy than it would ever be able to do to help it. Large scale, expensive R&D and engineering projects wouldn't be economically feasible, because there would be no way to prevent others from directly copying and distributing your product. Not only would the dissolution of copyright crush engineering innovation, it would also cripple the arts. Only in liberal fantasy land will tens or hundreds of millions of dollars be invested to produce a product that can't be sold, but only supported.

Read it Online, Free (5, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27142999)

They put their mouths where their money is, or something like that (too late in the day to be properly witty). Read it online for free.

http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm [dklevine.com]

Re:Read it Online, Free (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143301)

That link is 2 versions old (from 2005), here's the newly released one:

http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm

Re:Read it Online, Free (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143639)

Nice - wish I could mod you up - thanks!

Good Luck With That (0)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143011)

God, I hope that there is an eventual outbreak of common sense but I'm not holding my breath.

Regarding "common sense" I guess it depends on how literally you define it, but if it's common in the sense of majority held opinion then its adoption can't be pandemic can it? What we're talking about is more like a paradigm shift in moral values.

Re:Good Luck With That (1)

agm (467017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143343)

Don't forget that the GPL is effective because it is based on the protection of copyright.

Why would we listen to economists? (-1, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143023)

It's not like the have a good record of being correct.

Further shouldn't we look at these two particular bozos previous views (or does critical thinking only come into play when someone disagrees with the /. conventional wisdom).

I'm guessing they are 'labor economists' (campus econ code for reds).

Open market type economists at least have a decent track record.

In any case elimination of patents would simply make companies keep trade secrets better. China's lack of respect for IP is already doing that anyhow.

Re:Why would we listen to economists? (5, Insightful)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143443)

Your post starts with the assumption that simply because they are economists they are not worth listening to before suggesting critical thinking as a positive thing that most of the slashdot readership do not engage in. This is either an example of an American not understanding irony or a brilliant piece of irony.

You then use the term 'reds', an old propagandist word, as if 'reds' are inherently bad before highlighting "China's lack of respect for IP" as if IP has real meaning beyond your own mindset, as if it is a part of reality that exists outside of you political environment. In doing this you demonstrate that you are not flexible enough to think within the bounds defined in the fine article which has clearly stated that intellectual property is a modern propagandist word.

Even if you disagree with that premise, it is important to take that concept on, suspend disbelief if you will, in order to understand the whole point of what they are saying. You are unable to do this, apparantly incapable of critical thought, so you can only miss the point.

Oh, and the 1950's called. They'd like their bigotry back.

Re:Why would we listen to economists? (0, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143733)

The article starts with an argument from authority (citing the men as economists). They raised the issue of their qualifications.

It is reasonable to 'start skeptical' in all cases. This is especially true when dealing with economists. They simply don't have a good track record, particularly the leftest economists who have a 100 year record of being 100% wrong.

Your an idiot if you think the reds aren't still running lots of social science departments at universities though. Granted that the only two places you can find reds these days in theme parks in Poland and 'western' universities soft science and *studies departments.

You don't have to buy into an argument to take it apart. It helps not to. Companies always protected IP by keeping it secret, they are simply wrong about it being a new concept. Government protection of IP is at least as old as the USA (granting copyright is much too long now) but even before then companies and people protected their IP by simply keeping it secret.

The '60s called. They'd like their idiotic idealism back.

Kdawson (-1, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143035)

Hmm.. another kdawson article... Sure, Copyright hurts economy. ... maybe private property hurts economy as well... Maybe having a car or a house which I can sell/rent hurts economy too.... So you think anarchy is a better way?

Now seriously, everything I create has automatically my Copyright attached to it. And economy has nothing to do with it. It's just my right, just like the right I have to have a son/daughter and give them an education.

Genius... (5, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143043)

"They are calling on Congress to grant patents only where an invention has social value"

And of course, such a thing as "social value" can be easily determined before the product has the ability to hit the market...

Re:Genius... (2, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143225)

Patents already have a utility requirement. The PTO and courts have pretty much ignored that requirement though.

Re:Genius... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143681)

Patents already have a utility requirement. The PTO and courts have pretty much ignored that requirement though.

No, they're quite serious about it. They just don't define it the way you do.
Utility, in the area of patents, mean that something has a use. It does something. That's it. It's not required that something has economic or scientific uses - you can patent a toy or a game because it is "useful" for entertainment, or a new and nonobvious formulation of lipstick because it is "useful" for enhancing aesthetics.

Trust me, you really don't want this broad definition of "use" taken away and replaced by a narrow definition of use strictly defined by a bunch of old white guys: cars that go over 45 mph? Not useful. Guns (with a left leaning Congress)? Not useful... etc.

Re:Genius... (1)

Verity_Crux (523278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143303)

I don't think I like that phrase "social value" in this context. Does it mean we only allow patents on devices that improve your odds of getting a date? Or does it mean we only allow patents on devices that demotivate the truly motivated people in this country? (In which case I hope somebody got a patent on minimum wage and graduated tax levels.)

Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143061)

... but copyright law is what gives the various FOSS licenses their bite. Lose that, and then MS or any other going concern can have a field day strip mining the stuff for closed-source use.

Re:Don't forget... (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143175)

I'd say it'd be well worth it.

Remember: they can't lock up what they do any more.

Why bother inventing... (1, Insightful)

drmemnoch (142036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143153)

... or writing if someone else can come along and make money off your invention. Just imagine if Wal-Mart could print and sell and book they wanted without permission from the author or the publisher. What if they could take your program or product, have it made in China for a tenth of your cost and sell it for their own profit.

I don't create the products I create for 'social good.' I create them to make money. If I come up with a unique and new idea, it's mine (or at least it belongs to the company I created it for.)

Patents and copyright exist to ensure that the creator is protected. Sure there are problems with the way things are now, where patents are being given a little too freely, but to abolish copyrights and patents altogether is just absurd.

Re:Why bother inventing... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143263)

Patents and copyright exist to ensure that the creator is protected.

This is exactly why you should read their book.

Re:Why bother inventing... (0, Troll)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143731)

If I do, I'll buy it used. That way, they won't be forced to violate their principles by getting a royalty from the sale.

Re:Why bother inventing... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143275)

Just imagine if Wal-Mart could print and sell and book they wanted without permission from the author or the publisher. What if they could take your program or product, have it made in China for a tenth of your cost and sell it for their own profit.

Yay for them, I guess.
People here constantly complain about the music the RIAA offers us. If WalMart can sell CDs without paying the artist (good luck to them in offering a better perceived value than .torrent), the professional music industry will die, taking all the half-bakes with it. Only the artists for whom making music is its' own reward will continue to do so.

Re:Why bother inventing... (5, Insightful)

maugle (1369813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143319)

While I agree that it has its uses, the current infinity-bazillion-year copyright goes way too far.

Protecting your work from duplication for a time, allowing you to make money and, hopefully, finance future works? Good!
Creating one successful work and living off it for your whole life while preventing anyone else from improving on it? Terrible, and sadly what we're dealing with today.

Re:Why bother inventing... (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143415)

Why bother inventing when you can be a patent troll instead and predict broad classes of "inventions" ahead of time without doing any actual work?

Re:Why bother inventing... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143785)

SO you ahve nail a specific problem, and it's not a problem with the concept of patent, just patent abuse.
[Insert awesome car analogy here]

Re:Why bother inventing... (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143739)

Perhaps abolishing copyright altogether is extreme. But what would the effects of it be? Perhaps people who are motivated only by the prospect of profit would never create anything ever again, and maybe that would be a real loss to society.

But do you really think that if copyrights were abolished, no more music would be written? That nobody would ever write another how-to book, or tell another story?

If there were no patents, do you think all technological progress would grind to a halt? That nobody would ever try to invent novel things? That nobody would try to build a better mousetrap, or a flying car, or travel to Mars?

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143165)

If it wasn't for patent and copyright protection, the large software companies never would have gotten large... and the open source movement would never have had anything to copy!

Do as I say, not as I sell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143215)

"Newswise â" Abolishing patent and copyright law sounds radical, but two economists at Washington University in St. Louis say it's an idea whose time has come. Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine see innovation as a key to reviving the economy. They believe the current patent/copyright system discourages and prevents inventions from entering the marketplace. The two professors have published their views in a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly, from Cambridge University Press."

The irony of two economists calling for copyright abolishment while releasing their book under the same is black hole extreme.

Re:Do as I say, not as I sell. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143773)

The irony of two economists calling for copyright abolishment while releasing their book under the same is black hole extreme.

I believe that the word you're looking for here is "hypocrisy."

Limited Time (3, Insightful)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143317)

I'm not sure getting rid of either entirely would be the best option but I don't see much use of limits being longer than five years. Protection is supposed to give the original creator a short monopoly to give them, and others, incentive to create more. As it is now, someone can make something and sit on it for the rest of their lives; where's the incentive?

Re:Limited Time (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143753)

I'm not sure getting rid of either entirely would be the best option but I don't see much use of limits being longer than five years. Protection is supposed to give the original creator a short monopoly to give them, and others, incentive to create more. As it is now, someone can make something and sit on it for the rest of their lives; where's the incentive?

Just to draw a distinction... you appear to be talking about copyright, because in utility patents, you're limited to 20 years, so unless you're getting on there, you can't really "sit on it for the rest of your life". Plus, the patent might take 5 years to issue, so you only get 15 years.

But as for patents... The point of the protection and the "short monopoly" is to allow the inventor or author time to recoup their investment in research and authorship. The reason that patents and copyrights encourage innovation is that, once you've sunk 2-3 years of research costs and time, you can then make that up over the following several years and profit by your hard work. This leads to an important realization - time to recoup is different in different fields.

Maybe software should be a 5 year term (though, then software needs an accelerated examination procedure so that you can get the patent within 6 months to a year). But automobile or airplane engines? Those take years to develop and innovation is really slow. A 20 year term doesn't stifle innovation the way it does in software, where even 10 years = obsolete. And pharmaceuticals? As much as we hate the bastards for charging so much for their drugs, the average time from lab to market is 10-15 years, with all the human trials they have to go through, and the average cost is in the hundreds of millions. It takes a while to recoup that investment, and maybe drugs could be cheaper if we give them a longer-than-20 year term.

In essence, an arbitrary "5 years" or "20 years" doesn't work well for the myriad industries covered by patents.

Re:Limited Time (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143759)

While some people may do that, it can take a long tme to bring something to market. @0 years is a fine time limit.
Maybe some wording that the owner has spent reasonable time to bring the product to market? Or has to show intent to bring the product to market?
Both those would limit large organizations from sitting on patents.

If your a small inventor, then you are looking to make money, not sit and watch it rot.

shorter societal consumption/production loop. (1)

gowanus (208839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143351)

if you just said 15 years only for original owner and unextendable except by original founder(a person, no corporations) it would curb the problem.

use it or lose it. the iteration time of mass use or mass distribution is far less than historically. you should be able to, with any substantive effort, make your mark/dollars in that time.

i am hard pressed to see damage to society by shortening the feedback loop.

As a Zombie-artist (2, Funny)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143361)

I oppose this proposed abolishment of all Copyright. Anyone who does should suffer the same fate that I have: die in a drug-induced sex-binge only to come back to life, unable to earn money on songs written 'yesterday' relative to myself.

Furthermore I submit that royalties be amended to include BRAAAAAINS.

imaginary property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143447)

just keep that in mind when you're in a real jail cell getting fucked by a meth dealer.

you dirty faggots want everything for free. the only thing you deserve is AIDS so you die like a little faggot.

Re:imaginary property? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143671)

That's what those criminal scum deserve for singing "Happy Birthday."

Copyright definitely kills innovation (4, Interesting)

systemeng (998953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143485)

I went to ye olde library today to get copies of 2 Articles from the Journal of Applied Polymer Sciences, a Wiley Interscience Publication. Xeroxing the articles under fair use from the library was free for me.

The Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Moment came when I checked online to find out how much it would cost to subscribe to the journal. I thought someone misplaced a decimal point: $23,245 a year is the institutional subscription rate! That's about what I paid yearly in college tuition back when I was in college. Even worse, it's almost the value of the lab equipment I'm using in the work I've been doing on my own time.

Re:Copyright definitely kills innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143653)

how the fuck do you think they pay for research? are you so lunkheaded as to not understand this?

just imagine all the 'innovation' there will be when you give out research findings for free. you think the government has too much say in science now? just you wait, you stupid fuck.

Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27143667)

Imagine having a copyright on the Bible.

Reject the premise (2, Insightful)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143713)

The issue here isn't "intellectual property". The issue is the property paradigm itself. Whether or not the proprietary period has been lengthened ridiculously to benefit Disney, we all agree that intellectual property eventually returns to the public domain that nourished its creation. Newton wasn't the only one who has stood on the shoulders of giants.

Why then do we assume completely and utterly that "real" property never expires? Why assume that once Manhattan was stol...er...purchased, that it remains purchased - not for 14 years - not for 100 years - not for the lifetime of Peter Minuit plus 75 years - not even for as long as the original Dutch nation retained possession - but rather, for ever and ever and ever?

The concept behind inheritance taxes is that the wealthy got that way by receiving special benefits from the body politic. Thus there is an end to wealth of all types. At issue isn't how "intellectual property" differs from other types of property - perhaps to the extent of not even representing property - but how we have all bought into the absurd proposition that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are somehow entitled - could possibly be entitled - to squat on billions in filthy lucre.

All property is intellectual property. What is real estate but a deed? What is a car but its title?

What the hell is "social value"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143719)

Can we see an objective, non-ideological defintion?

Based on the incredible (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27143723)

accuracy economist have been shown to ahve of the last couple of years, I can't see why they could be wrong~

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